How to Ride Public Transportation in Los Angeles

With gasoline being over $4.00 a gallon and no relief in sight, public transportation is the next best thing, if you know the little secrets to become an Trans-Expert.


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    Plan ahead. If you are going to take the bus or train on a regular basis, do a trial run before you actually have to take it for real. Time the route out, pick up as many schedules that are related to the area of your destination as possible. Also, pick up a system wide map if available.
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    Have plenty of change and one dollar bills. Most buses do not have the ability to give change and asking the other riders for change is not the most efficient way to go about starting a trip. If your dollars are wrinkled, smooth them out as much as possible to ensure a smooth transaction at the fare box so that the people waiting behind you can enter the bus quickly. Whenever possible use "Golden Dollars" or Susan B. Anthony dollars. Be prepared.
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    If you are not certain of your destination it helps the bus operator if you know the cross streets. Some operators (bus drivers) know some popular locations on their route but they are really looking to the passengers to know where they are going.
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    Realize that the bus is a community. Each person is a traveler on their way to some destination. The bus may become crowded and patience is a handy thing to have. Short tempers do nothing but disrupt the progress of the bus and make the ride longer.
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    As soon as you identify the bus number that you want, start to wave at the operator to let him know that you do indeed want his bus. If you are sitting down, stand up as soon as you see the bus. If it is not the bus you want make a motion for the bus to keep going or step away from the curb or stop. The best way to communicate that you do not want the bus is to step behind the bus bench if available. If on the freeway, because of the high rate of speed and momentum of the bus, sit down as soon as you realize the bus is not the one you want and vice versa if it is the one you need.
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    If you don't know the street name but recognize the general area, sit where you can see the streets. Ring the bell as soon as you see the street or hear it announced by the operator or computer system.
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    If your eyesight isn't that good or if you want to make sure to get your stop ask the operator to call your particular street. That gives you an extra edge in making sure you get your stop.
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    Do not talk to the operator too much about things not related to your destination. He is concentrating on traffic and distractions cause unsafe conditions. After placing the fare in the fare box clear the area near the front door as quick as possible.


  • The bus driver wants you to get to your destination safely, quickly, and as comfortably as possible. Sometimes, there are delays in regards to traffic or mechanical problems and these things are beyond the operators control. Being rude to the operator because the bus is late does nothing positive.
  • Wait for all people exiting the bus to clear the door before entering. Not waiting just causes confusion at the door and slows the progress of the bus. Whenever possible, exit the bus at the rear door. Keep you valuables handy and always check your seat when exiting the seat. Hundreds of items are lost each day on public transportation.
  • If you ride the bus daily to work or school, find alternative routes and bus lines that will get you to your destination in case of street closures or police activity.
  • Only sleep on a bus if your destination is the last stop or if there is someone that will wake you at your stop. The operator, typically, will not wake you for your stop.


  • People from all walks of life ride the bus. for some individuals it is their only means of transportation. Some people have mental problems and may act strange but normally they are harmless. They may talk to themselves but do not assume they are talking to you. Do not engage them in any kind of antagonistic behavior. This will just make a difficult situation worse. If a real problem occurs contact the bus operator immediately.
  • As with any crowded area, there are dishonest people waiting for their opportunity to commit crime. Watch your valuables

Things You'll Need

  • Dollar bills and change, bus schedules, book (to read), CD or MP3 player, water, a good attitude, sense of humor and a spirit of adventure.

Article Info

Categories: Public Transport